For decades it was our norm (much like most of the world around us) for men to hold just about all of the positions of power and authority in the country. However, this decade has seen a shift from the norm as women have been empowered to occupy some of the highest offices in the Turks and Caicos. For the first time in TCI history, women have graced the positions of Premier, Deputy Governor, Supreme Court Chief Justice, Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecution all at the same time! Let’s let that sink in.
Hon Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson became the first female Premier of the TCI on December 15, 2016 taking on the highest position in the land. This post makes Hon Cartwright-Robinson along with Cabinet Ministers responsible for their policies and actions as being the representatives of the people by way of democracy.
On October 15, 2012 Her Excellency Anya Williams assumed the position of Deputy Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Although she was not the first female to hold this office, being appointed at the age of 31 was believed to make her the youngest Deputy Governor in any of the British Overseas Territories.
Mrs. Williams has direct responsibility over the public service, Permanent Secretaries, House of Assembly and the TCIG Press Office (among other things). She acts as Governor whenever the latter is absent from the territory.
The Chief Justice is the highest judicial officer in the country and sits in the Supreme Court which heads the judicial branch of government. This post is currently occupied by Chief Justice Margaret Ramsay-Hale who was sworn in on September 22, 2014 making her the first female to hold this post.
The principal responsibilities of the position include presiding over both civil and criminal trials as well as dealing with sufficiency, plea and direction hearings.
Making history yet again, this position was filled by a female for the first time when Mrs. Rhondalee Braithwaite-Knowles was appointed on February 24, 2014. The Attorney General is the legal adviser to the Government and House of Assembly of the Turks and Caicos Islands and therefore plays an important role in upholding the rule of law in the country.
Above being the first female AG in the TCI, upon her appointment, Mrs. Braithwaite-Knowles made the Turks and Caicos one of a few British Overseas Territories to have an Attorney General from its own citizens.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)
During this decade, this position was held by females on two occasions. Although this is no longer the case, it is worth mentioning nonetheless. From 2011-2013 JoAnne Meloche was the first female to hold the position and from 2016 to January 2019 Jillian Williams held the position but discharged her duties due to serious health concerns.
The DPP is an officer of the Government whose role is to prosecute criminal offences. In addition, the post of Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions is also held by a female, Angela Brooks who was appointed in March 2013.
Another position worth mentioning is the Chief Magistrate, Mrs. Tanya Lobban-Jackson, who was appointed in March 2016.
The significance of all of this is that we in the Turks and Caicos Islands have moved away from the harsh customs of leadership and have made strides to modernization by embracing our women.
Here’s to more liberation and empowerment of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands for years to come!